Recordings: Stars – Set Yourself On Fire

    Maybe it’s the dark winters or the long summer days, or just the federal support of the Canada Music Fund, but lately, many good things are coming from the North. With a new album of smoothly produced twee-rock, Toronto’s Stars are set to become the latest Northern soulmates of the equally emo-dramatic Death Cab For Cutie. Fist-pumping indie romance is the name of the game, and Stars provide it without much of the self-indugent style of Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard.

    Stars split lead vocal duties between Torquil Campbell (that’s a guy) and Amy Millan, so every time he complains about the relationship not working, she reminds us who the real bastard was. Despite their often opposite perpectives, they spend the greater part of the album wrapped up in the other’s voice, weaving thick, beautiful harmonies that offer warmth from the cool sheets of guitar, synth and cymbal wash, cascading like falling sleet on a windshield. The synth-heavy numbers seem indebted to the Postal Service, but vaguely one-up them, while the guitar tracks synthesize the Smiths, minus Mozzer’s croon (who would dare to imitate it?). According to Woody Allen and the WB, fall is a time for romance, and Stars provide a mostly perfect soundtrack to the sugartoothed indie rock hipster in all of us. I hope it lasts through the winter.

    Stars will perform with Death Cab for Cutie at SOMA on Nov. 9.

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